This past December from the 16th to the 23rd of 2018, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to visit the Galapagos Islands onboard the Angelito yacht, which, in my personal opinion, has one of the best itineraries for discovering the islands. I had previously been on two other luxury Galapagos cruises on different occasions, but the experience I had this time with the Angelito´s B itinerary for an eight-day cruise was far more complete than my other trips! Keep reading for more details of this fantastic trip in the archipelago.
This itinerary is a great combination of the central, southern and western islands offering a high variety of wildlife sightings of endemic and non-endemic species where you will encounter sea lions, giant tortoises, a lot of marine life, and the cast of Galapagos birds too.
The Angelito Yacht is the most comfortable of the standard category of cruises Happy Gringo Travel offers to our clients. It has eight, very elegant, twin and double cabins on the main deck with lower beds. Each with a proper window that opens and a private bathroom with amenities including a blow drier! There is also a lovely sundeck where you can lie down to admire the breathtaking landscape while groups of frigate birds fly so close to the boat you can almost touch them by raising your hands!
The food on board was a highlight! And I must say this is a real find being a vegetarian. Each meal was delicious, always prepared with attention to detail. The chef was not only a great cook, but he was also one of the friendliest and kindest people on board!
Well, actually, the whole crew was pretty amazing! Our room was cleaned daily and carefully arranged by the housekeeper. The panga drivers and guide were always ready to assist us when visiting different sites.
They provided expert information and were always on the lookout for wildlife sightings that they spotted while on visits and even when navigating from one site to the next.
At one point they had such a keen eye that they spotted the most beautiful and massive whale shark swimming next to the boat while traveling at high speed! You can imagine the excitement of all of us!
After each outing every day, we were greeted by the crew on board with delicious snacks! You will also find delicious cold local or imported beer in the fridge of the dining area, as well as wine. You can help yourself and just write down your rinks on the card with your name!
Day One-Las Bachas Beach, Santa Cruz Island
After arriving and making our way to the Angelito yacht and having lunch, we visited Bachas beach. The white sand spot has a lagoon a short walk inland where flamingos feed and a variety of land and sea birds are seen nearby.
Day Two- Mosquera Islet and Dragon Hill
The second day led to a great snorkeling experience in the waters of Mosquera Islet combined with the incredible contrast of landscapes of Dragon Hill on Santa Cruz Island.
Mosquera Islet, one of the smallest islands in the Galapagos, is home to a large sea lion colony. The coral reefs close to shore harbor rays, sea turtles, sharks, and eels, a small taste of the underwater world of the Galapagos Marine Reserve.
On the next part of the day’s activities, we arrived at a lovely white sand beach where just a few steps away you find yourself exploring a deserted (at this time of the year) and dry land with a mysterious hill on the horizon. The arid land around Dragon Hill has many varieties of cactus, making it the ideal home to some very beautiful bright yellow land iguanas and giant tortoises who feed on the prickly plants close to the ground.
Day Three-Tagus Cove and Espinoza Point-Isabela Island
On day three we reached the western islands and continued to travel around Isabela Island to reach Tagus Cove, a place that in the past was used by pirates to rest and also for attacking other ships passing by!
You can actually see some very old wall paintings, like signatures left by boats from many different countries, with dates going way back to the 1800´s!
In the afternoon we visited Espinoza Point. This site offers a completely different but beautiful landscape filled with marine iguanas, which often just look like rocks! You must be really careful not to step on them since they mix so well with the surroundings and, believe it or not, they will not move if they feel you are a few cms away.
Day Four- Urbina and Elizabeth Bays-Isabela Island
Urbina and Elizabeth Bays are two highlights of this itinerary with some of the best snorkeling opportunities around Isabela! In Urbina Bay we swam with a dozen penguins, a sea lion, some marine turtles, and Galapagos sharks, we could not ask for more!
Elizabeth Bay offers the chance to see large groups of eels and golden rays swimming around as well as some very special sea lions that have managed to get their thick bodies through tight mangrove roots and make these their hideouts for their really long naps!
Day Five-Punta Moreno and Puerto Villamil
Next on the itinerary was Punta Moreno, a massive dry lava field where you hike and admire the beautiful different cactus that have grown in this very arid land. Part of the trip takes you to a white sand beach. From the shore, you can see large groups of rays swimming off the coast as well as some turtle nests on land. Watch out where you walk and follow your guide´s instructions to avoid stepping on one!
In the afternoon we had some free time in the town of Puerto Villamil. This is the place on Isabela Island to walk around, eat at some local restaurant, or just lie on the beach and rest a bit.
After about three hours we all met at the dock so we could get back on board and enjoy a delicious dinner. That night we remained at anchor off of Isabela Island. All of the passengers stayed onboard so the next day we could go back to Puerto Villamil after an early start and hike the Sierra Negra volcano.
Day Six-Sierra Negra Volcano
The trek to Sierra Negra and Volcan Chico is absolutely a lovely and amazing hike! It can take about an hour- once you reach the rim of the six-mile wide, active crater the views are unbelievable! Wildlife includes finches, mockingbirds, and hawks.
After the hike, we visited a tortoise breeding center to learn a bit more about these cute creatures and see them in all their growing stages while they fed on crunchy leaves. Isabela Island has more wild tortoises that all of the others combined, different kinds distinguished by the six volcanoes on the island.
Day Seven-Devil’s Crown and Post Office Bay
The snorkeling at Devil´s Crown off of Floreana Island in the morning of the last day of the cruise was definitely one of the most amazing experiences of the trip. This specific day, the ocean conditions were a bit crazy so the guide did not allow us to swim too close to the rocks or go inside the “crown,” which is normally a part of the adventure. You could feel the strength of the currents in the roughness of the water movements, which actually made everything much more exciting!
We remained in the eastern side of the crown for safety purposes and once we jumped in and opened our eyes under the water, could not believe the different colors and sizes of all the fish. Look down into the deep and you will most likely see that there is more than one Galapagos shark swimming about very close to the white sand below.
Post Office Bay is a visitor site that passengers like as they can send out some postcard the old fashioned way. Whalers started the tradition in the 18th century. A barrel was left with mail inside from sailors heading out to sea for those at home. Returning ships would collect the missives and hand deliver them once back in port. Today people still leave postcards and take a few to send or deliver at home after the trip is over.
We then continued to Puerto Ayora for an afternoon in the town for some souvenir shopping and walking around. After a day of exploring, we went back to the ship for a farewell dinner with the other passengers and crew.
Day Eight-Daphne Island and Flight Back to the Mainland
The last day we took a quick panga ride around Daphne Island where you can see birdlife like blue and Nazca boobies and magnificent frigatebirds before headed out to Baltra airport for our flight back to mainland Ecuador.
Recommendations: An 8-day cruise on board the Angelito yacht or any standard category cruise is pretty active with lots of hiking and snorkeling opportunities. Please be sure to take sunblock, a light wind jacket, sunglasses, a cap, and a pair of good sneakers for the hikes. If you think a walking stick helps, most boats will provide them during the visits. If you are prone to seasickness, taking seasickness pills will definitely help. And most importantly, be ready to enjoy a trip of a lifetime!
Priscilla is a member of the Happy Gringo sales team who is in love with Ecuador, the culture, the food, the landscapes, and its uniqueness. She grew up in the States only to return to her hometown of Quito to study tourism, and find new ways to help others discover the country and its many treasures.